McLain, Clayton O.


Rank: Ship's Cook Second Class
Serial Number: 6682125
Military Branch: USS Cythera, PY-26
Origin: Wisconsin
Date of Death: 1042-5-2
East Coast Menorial Cemetery
Featured: No

Clayton O'dell McLain was born September 7, 1914 in Elroy, Wisconsin. He enlisted in St. Louis, Missouri on January 4, 1942. Because of his career as a cook and baker, he was appointed Ship's Cook, 2nd class and sent to Great Lakes for training on January 20, 1942. At the time of his enlistment he was married to Florence Mary McLain and had 2 twin children (David Allen and Diane Allyne) born about 1939. He was living in Mauston, Wisconsin. His documents state that his wife was living in Chicago leading to the conclusion that they were separated. McLain previously had been in the Army for 18 months and was discharged June 12, 1939. In 1941, his father was deceased and his mother had remarried.

McLain was assigned to the USS Cythera on March 9, 1942. This ship was a private yacht that saw service in WW1 and then returned to private hands. On December 31, 1941, it was sold to the US Navy for $1, and was commissioned on March 3, 1942. She was wood planked with a length of 242 feet and beam of 28 feet.

On May 1, 1941, at 0300, they set out from the Naval Base in Norfolk to transit to Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal. At 0045 hours on May, 2, she was attacked by U-402 about 115 miles east of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The ship was struck by one torpedo and it broke in half and sunk quickly. There were 2 survivors who were topside; the other 68 died. The survivors were picked up by the sub and spent the remainder of the war as prisoners.

This group consists of McLain's offcially engraved Navy Type 1 Purple Heart made by the US Mint, its purple presntation case, internet reseach and his file from the National Archives. A copy of a photo of USS Cythera is shown below.

A detailed account of this action can be found at:

 http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/170575s.htm 

 


  
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